Pass or Fail instead of "traditional" grades?
What if the rules of assessment changed? What if, instead of giving final grades, your students either passed or failed?
Iâ€™ve thought about how I would teach differently if pass or fail was the only thing that showed up on my studentsâ€™ report cards. The rules of assessment would change in many ways, a few of which Iâ€™d like to talk about here.
1. The onus is on the student to take initiative for his or her own education. I think students actually have to work harder in a pass/fail situation. They donâ€™t want to leave any doubt in the educatorâ€™s mind that they have passed. The student, motivated to pass, will want to pass with a capital â€śP.â€ť Pass/fail is probably more difficult than receiving a letter grade or a number. There is no gray area in pass/fail. They will do extra work extra well so thereâ€™s no question as to the status of their final grade.
2. There is more room for project based assessment. Daily busy work makes sense in a letter grade system. It can help or harm a studentâ€™s grade, so it behooves the student to complete it no matter how ridiculous it may seem or how little he or she learns. Since you as the educator do not have to grade daily busy work in a pass/fail system, students can work instead on long-term projects. Complete the project according to the rubric and beyond? Pass. Donâ€™t complete the project or fall extremely short of basic learning outcomes? Fail.
3. Student progress can be tracked through a ning or private blog. You can track the progress of the project (group or solo) through a ning or a private blog or some other update-able medium. Students can share a brief report of their progress and post some of their work for feedback from classmates or from you. In this way, you can see early on whoâ€™s on track and whoâ€™s not. Youâ€™ll be able to catch the ones who are behind early on.
These are just a few of the ways assessment would change if students didnâ€™t have to work for letter or number grades. In what other ways would assessment changed if you had to grade your students pass/fail?